Earlier this week, the Florence Project joined partner organizations across the country to advocate for the preservation of the United States’ asylum system and against the Remain in Mexico plan. To learn this plan is being implemented in the Tucson sector, in our own community, is nothing short of devastating. Coming on the heels of a plan announced this week to send asylum seekers to Guatemala instead of allowing applications to proceed in the U.S., this is another step to eviscerate the asylum system and strip away the fundamental human rights of migrants.

Beginning today, Friday, November 22, eligible asylum seekers in the Tucson area will be transferred to Ciudad Juárez to await their asylum claims. The impact that this decision will have on our own community cannot be overstated, but the Florence Project, as we have for 30 years, stands ready to respond and serve the men, women, and children seeking refuge in Arizona.

The Remain in Mexico policy, originally announced on December 20, 2018, has been implemented on other parts of the border, with horrific consequences. Since implementation, over 55,000 migrants have been forced to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are adjudicated. Most recent figures by Human Rights First show that as of November 18, 2019 there have been at least 400 publicly reported cases of rape, torture, kidnapping, and other violent assaults against asylum seekers and migrants who have been forced to return to Mexico under this illegal policy.

Continued implementation of this plan will put more lives at risk and prevent asylum seekers from accessing legal resources, justice, and community support in the process. Sending people to wait in dangerous conditions is unacceptable, and it is even more upsetting that asylum seekers are being purposefully removed from a community where they have access to hospitality groups, support, and legal services. The Florence Project has a partnership with the Kino Border Initiative (KBI) to provide legal services to migrants receiving humanitarian aid at the KBI shelter in Nogales, Sonora. Transferring people away from these resources will effectively guarantee that people who could have had access to both humanitarian aid and legal assistance at the Arizona border, will now have access to neither.

The right to seek asylum in the United States is unambiguously protected by U.S. and international law, and asylum seekers have the right to wait safely in the United States while their claims are processed in a fair manner.

We urge the administration to reverse course immediately and end the Remain in Mexico policy across the border.

Your support is critical in times like these. You can make a difference today by calling your Senators and Representatives and asking them to take action to end this inhumane and illegal program. Thank you for your support during these challenging times.